Well, summer has come to Cervinara, and the rest of the Italian peninsula as well. We have been hearing about the Scipione Africanus for days now, the hot air mass that comes over from north Africa. Every day gets a bit warmer, but even if we were closed off in an air conditioned house we would know changes were in the air because of so many other subtle differences in the way life unfolds in Cervinara.
I don't want to come across as obsessed with sounds this year, but that is the first thing that I notice as the temperature rises. When it's mild and lovely out, the air is filled with the sounds of people in the streets and work being done in yards and gardens. Even after lunch during the siesta time, chain saws buzz, weed whackers whine, and workers holler at one another to bring more stone for a wall under construction. Now, in the post-prandial break time, it is deathly quiet. No dogs bark, no neighbors chat together, no workers try to capitalize on a couple of extra hours of work. No one braves the mid-day sun, not even mad dogs and Englishmen....and certainly no Italians!
There is a torpor in the atmosphere that effects everyone. Our morning cappuccino is taken out on the little terrace where we can capture a bit of shade. Once the sun hits that spot everyone is quick to take his leave. The ladies who usually scurry out at the sound of the fruit and vegetable truck take their time to saunter up the hill. No one is in a rush to go back into the hot kitchens.
Attendance at mass is lighter than usual. So many of the septuagenarians and octogenarians who make the trek every day from up in the Castello neighborhood don't come when it's hot like this. The 17:00 call to rosary is still too early in the day for a long walk; the sun still too "massacrante" to be able to handle, so many of the usual suspects will listen to mass on the TV or will say their rosary in the privacy and comfort of their homes.
Around 20:00, things start to get comfortable again. This is when it's nice to go for a stroll down to the Piazza Elena, sit on a bench and watch life unfold. It's still light enough to enjoy visiting with friends, but the sun has lost its power and is ceding its strength to the night. When normally things are quieting down, the pent up energy from the long, hot day is finally released. Now the sounds are of kids kicking soccer balls in the piazza, the card players yelling about their bad luck and the splash of water as plants get a much needed drink.
Summer in Cervinara is like summer in so many places, yet with its own flavor and charm. Tonight things probably won't quiet down outside until close to midnight and early risers will be up even earlier to take advantage of the morning chill. But that's OK. The 14:00 siesta will be quiet and everyone will have a chance to catch up on much needed rest and relaxation. That's the rhythm of life in my small Italian town.